Cristiano Ronaldo still has a lot to prove at Real Madrid. While he's undeniably had great personal success since making the move from Manchester United, his club has played second fiddle to Barcelona in La Liga play and hasn't yet achieved Champions League glory.
And as much as a player of Ronaldo's stature can be overshadowed, he's been overshadowed by Lionel Messi.
For that reason, Ronaldo needs to remain at Real Madrid, both in the short-term and for the duration of his career. His goal should be to retire as the greatest player to ever don the Los Blancos shirt.
In fact, Real Madrid's president has convinced himself Ronaldo will never leave. From The Sun:
Cristiano Ronaldo will retire at Real Madrid, according to club president Florentino Perez.
Manchester United have been trying to lure the Portuguese superstar back to Old Trafford this summer. But Ronaldo last week insisted he had no intention of quitting the Bernabeu anytime soon.
And Perez said: “Ronaldo wants to retire at Real Madrid, and we want him to retire here, just like Zidane and so many other great players did.
You can be absolutely certain that Cristiano will retire at Real Madrid.”
If you compare Ronaldo's Manchester United days with his Real Madrid ones, there is no question that he's taken his game to a new level in Spain.
Then again, he did win the Ballon d'Or in 2008 with Manchester United, something he hasn't been able to do with Real Madrid.
He earned a lot more silverware at United as well, where he won three Premier League titles, the Champions League in 2007-08, an FA Cup and two League Cups.
At Real Madrid, he's taken home one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey and one Supercopa in four years. His trophy case hasn't exactly runneth over with Los Blancos.
And in the process, he's found himself playing second fiddle in the "Best Player in the World" argument to Messi, while Real Madrid has been able to best Barcelona for the La Liga title just once in his four years in Spain.
Does Ronaldo want to be remembered as one of Barca's whipping boys?
And if Ronaldo does go back to Manchester United, he'll be returning to a much different club. Sir Alex Ferguson? Retired. Wayne Rooney? Likely sold to finance Ronaldo's return.
Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham? All sure to be improved from a season ago, and all capable of giving United a run for their money this season.
Besides, he's been there and done that, right? If he leaves Real Madrid, wouldn't he want a new challenge?
But therein lies another conundrum—which other club can match the finances and prestige of Real Madrid?
If he wants to go to Germany, than Bayern Munich certainly can. Beyond that, though, he won't find a better club to play for.
AC Milan doesn't have the finances these days to bring him on board. Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco do, but he'd be taking a step down in competition playing in France. It's pretty unthinkable that he'd ever play for a different EPL team. Barcelona won't come calling with Messi and Neymar already on board.
No, he pretty much has it made at Real Madrid. The only other clubs in the world he'd likely ever consider are a return to United and Bayern Munich. But let's be honest—if Real Madrid splashes out top dollar, Ronaldo won't go anywhere.
And honestly, that's the way it should be. Ronaldo should retire with Los Blancos.